Weightlifting machines are perfectly safe for kids–a lot safer than some of the things that parents make their kids do around the house and yard.
First of all, when I talk about kids here, let’s assume they are at least 10 years of age.
Secondly, let’s assume that the weightlifting machines in question are not confusing to kids to figure out, and that these kids have received proper instruction.
I certainly don’t endorse kids using complicated weightlifting machines that are potentially dangerous even to adults.
But what about those other, really simple to use weightlifting machines that can be used while in a seated position?
These are safe for children to use, as long as they practice good form. Good form is mandatory for all age groups when using resistance equipment, and kids are no exception.
If you believe that weight lifting machines can be harmful to kids, ask yourself these questions:
1) Does my child ever take out the garbage?
2) Does my child ever carry around babies or toddlers?
3) Does my child have a hobby that involves lifting, carrying or manipulating weighted objects, such as bowling, woodworking, archery, rock-wall climbing or judo?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then your child is already lifting weights.
Yet ironically, you have no worries or concerns about the weightlifting that’s involved in, for example, carrying around younger siblings, archery or judo.
Every time your child picks up a younger sibling, this is weightlifting, especially if piggy back rides are involved.
Hauling out the garbage is weight lifting. Do you ever hand grocery bags to your child to carry? This is weightlifting.
Archery mimics the weight lifting routine of rows, which work the back muscles.
Rock-wall climbing mimics leg pressing motions and the pull-over machine.
In wrestling, a child is exerting resistance against his opponent; this can mimic a seated chest press easily.
And in judo, all those flipping motions involve manipulation with the weight of the opponent or classroom partner.
The thing about weightlifting machines is that they are actually safer than wrestling, hoisting heavy garbage and carrying heavy younger siblings, in that gym equipment is designed to impose resistance upon the body in a symmetrical, bilateral fashion while the user is in neutral spinal alignment.
Show me a child whose spine is neutrally aligned while he or she is giving another child a piggy back ride, or while he is carrying garbage, picking up the baby, hoisting himself up on metal playground equipment, or shoveling snow (another weight-bearing activity).
I see kids at the airport carrying weighty luggage all the time. This is weight lifting and parents don’t seem too worried about safety.
It’s funny how parents don’t mind if their kids do pull-ups or pushups, yet believe that lat pull-overs and bench presses are dangerous to these same kids. But a pull-up is the same thing as a lat pull-over!
It’s the exact same joint motion! The only difference is that the object of resistance is stationary in the pull-up, and mobile in the lat pull-down.
A pushup is an inverted bench press! A 75-pound typical child will struggle more with a pushup than with a bench press of a 20-pound barbell!
It’s perfectly safe for kids to use weightlifting machines as long as they use proper form and don’t overdo it. These are the same rules for adults and teens.
What parents should be more concerned about is their kids’ form while they are handling garbage, luggage, shoveling snow, and picking up/carrying other children or babies.